We’re on the home stretch now with college football’s regular season nearing its end. The standings for our staff picks have tightened to the point where it begs the question, “was it all worth it?”
We’ll say yes and keep going.
Editor’s note: I failed to send Jeff the UVA-Louisville game last week in our staff e-mail so now we’ve got a sweet new asterisk in the proceedings. He is now comically a half-game ahead of me.
Grant Atkinson: 69-22
Mike McDaniel: 67-24
Jeff Greenberg: 66-24*
Justin Cates: 66-25
Virginia (6-4, 3-3) @ #3 Miami (9-0, 6-0) (-19.5), Saturday 12 p.m. on ABC
Justin Cates: Miami wins.
Virginia has looked incredibly flat lately. They’re going to a bowl game, but could easily lose five of the team’s final six games en route. Miami is clipping right along and should be fine so long as they can remain focused.
Jeff Greenberg: Miami wins.
Classic trap game for the Hurricanes. But I’m sure Mark Richt has preached that all week.
Grant Atkinson: Miami wins.
Given that this game is at noon and Miami just came of off two huge top 25 match ups in primetime, I can see them coming out a bit sluggish. What I can’t see is them losing to a UVA team that has dropped off pretty significantly in the second half of the season.
Mike McDaniel: Miami wins
It’s a noon kickoff and has all the makings of a let down spot for the Hurricanes. However, they’re way too talented to let this one slip away.
Delaware State (2-8) @ Florida State (3-6), Saturday 12 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Florida State wins.
This is a bad game and everyone involved should feel bad. Well, I suppose that’s not really fair to the cheerleaders. They’re cool. FSU should manage to prove competent in spurts over 60 minutes against a lower division foe at home.
Jeff Greenberg: Florida State wins.
Delawar…oh come on, Seminoles win.
Grant Atkinson: Florida State wins.
This begins Florida State’s schedule of three easy games to try and become bowl eligible. Florida is the toughest of the bunch, but they hardly look formidable. FSU will get off to a good start by winning this week, but it remains to be seen if they can get to six wins.
Mike McDaniel: Florida State wins.
Pittsburgh (4-6, 2-4) @ Virginia Tech (7-3, 3-3) (-15.5), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN
Justin Cates: Pittsburgh wins.
It’s impossible to get a read on Pitt at this point. They’re capable of good and bad things, predicting which will happen when is futile. Ben Dinucci has given the Panthers some stability at quarterback, but more importantly they’ve gotten the ground game going with Darrin Hall. The Tech defense is banged up and without Terrell Edmunds among others. Do upsets still exist?
Jeff Greenberg: Virginia Tech wins.
Which Hokies team will show up this week? Same goes for Pitt. It’s in Blacksburg though so I don’t think the Hokies will come out flat.
Grant Atkinson: Virginia Tech wins.
The Hokies pretty much had everything go wrong last Saturday: defensive meltdowns, coaching debacles, horrible offense, you name it. Pitt hasn’t been great this year, but they look better as of late. The Hokies should come out ready to play on senior day, but this game is much tighter than it looks.
Mike McDaniel: Virginia Tech wins.
The Hokies hit rock bottom offensively last Saturday at Georgia Tech. I think they’ll figure things out here at home and bounce back after a couple of rough weeks tumbled them back to earth.
The Citadel (5-5) @ #2 Clemson (9-1), Saturday 12:20 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Clemson wins.
Again, no one should feel good about scheduling these games. It’s awful late in the season but the NCAA has to find a way to curb this issue early in the year as well. It grinds my gears in a way that’s similar to how Clemson will grind up the The Citadel.
Jeff Greenberg: Clemson wins.
Keep the starters healthy for next week. Clemson’s defense should wrap this one up quickly.
Grant Atkinson: Clemson wins.
Somehow it always seems that Clemson has some random cupcake team in the next to last week of the season. This year is no different, so the Tigers should win easily.
Mike McDaniel: Clemson wins.
Win this game convincingly and make sure everyone stays healthy. Those are Clemson’s only goals in this rout.
Western Carolina (7-4) @ North Carolina (2-8), Saturday 3 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: North Carolina wins.
Western Carolina is a pretty fair opponent given the circumstance. UNC seemed energized in the upset over Pittsburgh last week. Despite the massive injury total and string of losses, the Tar Heels are still fighting and that’s impressive. UNC should pull this one out, but it will be competitive.
Jeff Greenberg: North Carolina wins.
North Carolina has been playing better of late. Western Carolina has had a good year and will throw everything they’ve got at the Tar Heels. In the end, the Tar Heels win on senior day.
Grant Atkinson: North Carolina wins.
I really don’t feel confident picking UNC. Ever. But they looked pretty good against Pitt last Thursday, have a lot of rest, and they are playing an FCS team. For those reasons, I’m picking UNC. But I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on it.
Mike McDaniel: North Carolina wins.
As bad as UNC has been this year, they aren’t bad enough to lose to Western Carolina. The Tar Heels will send their seniors out the right way on Senior Day.
Georgia Tech (5-4, 4-3) (-6.5) @ Duke (4-6, 1-5), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ACCN Extra
Justin Cates: Georgia Tech wins.
The Yellow Jackets are another team that is completely puzzling. Which group shows up Saturday? Duke has completely derailed and has lost six consecutive games. The good news on that side is, four of those have come by only one score. This should favor Georgia Tech slightly with some momentum coming off an upset of the Hokies.
Jeff Greenberg: Georgia Tech wins.
Duke is in a tailspin. They did not do well against the option last week. I don’t see them doing well against it this week.
Grant Atkinson: Georgia Tech wins.
I tried to give Cutcliffe and Duke the benefit of the doubt last week, but they let me down. Army dominated Duke the whole game, and it was not as close as the final score suggested. Georgia Tech was really gifted a win against Virginia Tech more than they earned it, but a win none the less. Neither QB seems to be able to throw the ball right now, so in a run battle, Georgia Tech and the spread option have the advantage.
Mike McDaniel: Georgia Tech wins.
Duke is ready for this season to be over. Georgia Tech will aid in their misery on Saturday after a huge win at home last Saturday against Virginia Tech.
Syracuse (4-6, 2-4) @ Louisville (6-4, 3-4) (-13), Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU
Justin Cates: Louisville wins.
Lamar Jackson has accounted for 110 total touchdowns (63 passing, 47 rushing) in 35 games at the collegiate level. He’s in the top five nationally in passing, and just outside of the top five in rushing. This could be a high-scoring game and a lot of fun to watch.
Jeff Greenberg: Louisville wins.
Shootout city coming at you in this game. Homefield advantage is key here.
Grant Atkinson: Louisville wins.
This game has the potential to be VERY high scoring. The Wake Forest vs. Syracuse game had over 100 points, and this one could be headed the same way. Louisville is at home and they have Lamar, so I’ll go with them in an offensive shootout.
Mike McDaniel: Louisville wins.
All of a sudden, Louisville looks competent again. Not only that, but Syracuse QB Eric Dungey does not look like he’ll be playing on Saturday. That’s enough for me to take the Cardinals.
Boston College (5-5) (-21.5) @ Connecticut (3-7) (Played at Fenway Park in Boston, Ma.), Saturday 7 p.m. on CBSSN
Justin Cates: Boston College wins.
“Bang a left! We’re goin’ ta Fenway Pahk fer some football!” Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? It’s still pretty funny, though mileage may vary for Red Sox fans like Mike. This game isn’t terribly interesting from a neutral viewer standpoint, but for some reason the novelty of playing football in a baseball stadium hasn’t completely worn thin for me.
Jeff Greenberg: Boston College wins.
Boston College lost their quarterback. But UConn is bad. The Eagles will ride Dillon to the win in this game.
Grant Atkinson: Boston College wins.
I really don’t know how UConn has three wins this year, because they are probably the worst football team I’ve seen. In fact, ECU beat them, and I would say UConn is the only FBS team that I would bet on losing to ECU. BC’s offense has looked much better during the second half of the season, but even a bad offensive performance would not change the outcome.
Mike McDaniel: Boston College wins.
A.J. Dillon and the Eagles will run over, around, and through UCONN at Fenway Park on Saturday. BC rolls here.
#19 NC State (7-3, 5-1) @ Wake Forest (6-4, 3-3), Saturday 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU
Justin Cates: Wake Forest wins.
I’ve gone back-and-forth on this one quite a bit. This may be the low-key game of the week in ACC play. State got a win last week but has struggled historically in Winston-Salem. A healthy John Wolford has the Demon Deacon offense clicking and I’ve got a feeling they do it again.
Jeff Greenberg: Wake Forest wins.
Game of the week. Night time in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons have their offense rolling. The defense will get just enough stops to pull off the upset over the Wolfpack.
Grant Atkinson: NC State wins.
Both Wake and NC State are quietly having solid seasons over in the Atlantic division. With the home field advantage, Wake can certainly keep this one close. I ultimately see NC State coming out on top, but this could be a really fun one to watch.
Mike McDaniel: Wake Forest wins.
John Wolford and Wake Forest are playing their best football of the season. NC State, meanwhile, has struggled with staying consistent on both side of the football. I’m rolling with the Demon Deacons at home to pull out a close game over the flaky Wolfpack.